Meet Violette de Ayala
Violette de Ayala is a Cuban-American serial and social Entrepreneur, Founder of FemCity, and virtual mentor to over 20,000 women. She’s also the International best-selling author of The Self-Guided Guru© Life Lessons for the Everyday Human. Violette has been quoted in Success, Forbes, Entrepreneur, CNBC, Fast Company, Thrive Global, Medium, Yahoo Finance, Yahoo Small Business, Authority, Business Insider News as a small business expert overall.
Let's talk a little bit about FemCity. You founded this global women's networking organization, just tell us a little bit about that.
I started femme city in 2009. I myself was looking for community in my life. And even after going out to many, many networking events here in Miami that are all spectacular and great. I always left feeling a little depleted and like I was missing some sort of connection to others. And after doing that for a couple years, I just decided to start something very small, but it would be just for 20 women here Miami and we would just gather once a month and help to support each other in business and personal development. And throughout the years, because of pictures on Facebook that we initially posted and launching other chapters, we started watching more and more. And now we are a members only organization. We help women in business personal development, and we create communities around the world.
You've got a couple new chapters opening up in all different parts of the world. Would you like to share some of those places?
We moved out, so we grow very organically. And you can see our growth patterns starting in Miami, and then we kind of grew up the east coast and then moved over to the west coast. And then we started growing in Canada, in Toronto. And so it's natural for us to start launching in other countries as well. So before all of this started happening, we had started kind of having the conversations of launching in Paris and Madrid and in Dubai and we're excited to continuously grow and create communities for women with personal development, online resources, literally anything that they need in order to design and create the life that they envision for themselves.
So you're an international best-selling author. What inspired you to write a book while you've already got this global organization underneath your feet?
So it's actually a really funny story. Many years ago, some of our members kept asking me for a book, oh, you should write a business book. I started to write it. I reviewed it. I'm like, gosh, this is horrible. This is like a horrible book. I can't do this. So I kind of put that on the back burner. And then I had a goal of writing it by a certain time. And I thought I just need to write it. Let me just write it the way I want to write it in the voice that I generally use when I'm speaking or lecturing. And so I wrote this book, it's 10 chapters, with life lessons that I grew from and how I actually transitioned and pivoted my life stories from going from welfare to wealth stories of being married to someone for 20 years divorcing and getting back together. And just even like the stories of growing up with a mother who was a drug addict and suffered from mental illness. So all these kinds of stories that people knew about, that I lectured. That's where that book was really birthed from.
Can you share with our listeners one of your most successful or favorite networking experiences that you've had?
So I believe you can network anywhere, right? I think my favorite networking story is I was asked to be a speaker on a panel many, many years ago for Gymboree, here in Miami, which is where I live and I went and we networked a little bit before the panel started and then we networked a little bit after and I got the opportunity to meet the founder of Gymboree, she was also on the panel, Joan Barnes, and we just connected. It was like we had known each other our whole entire lives. And she ended up we exchanged information like cell phone and emails. And the next day we chatted, and we couldn't stop chatting and we were like texting each other like all these ideas and she really became an iconic person in my journey through being an entrepreneur. And that all came from networking.
How do you stay in front of or best nurture this network and this community that you've created?
I feel that each member that we have is a friend and they feel like I'm really responsible for their success. And every day I wake up like thinking to myself, how can I help more in a bigger way? What can I do to help others to grow the business that they envision for themselves to design their life to live life in a balanced way. And when you come across, anytime you're networking, when you come across from the point of view of wanting to serve and help others, it always comes back to you.
So what advice would you offer the professional who's looking to grow their network?
The advice that I would give is to show up all the time anywhere ready to create connections. So whether you're walking your dog, or going to the farmers market or going to a networking event or whatever it is that you have, you have the power to meet people that can pivot your life in dramatic ways. And if you keep your energy open to receiving that, and then giving, being a person to give of yourself to fully offer advice to be kind to others, those people will remember you forever and ever. And that's really when you talk about business growth. It's always about the contacts and connections that you have, and that they like you because humans do business with humans they like and respect.
Between digital networking or traditional networking which do you find more value in?
I would say both of them, honestly. Sometimes I've met friends on social media. So I think if you come across from the same point of view of being of service, being an asset to that person, oh, I thought of you, I got this invitation for this networking event, I thought of you or I have this contact, I thought it would be a great introduction. So I think a lot of that can occur in the digital world. If you have the heart in it. I think they're both equally valuable. I mean, at the end of the day, humans like to see each other's eyes, like to see each other and you can exponentially grow that relationship when you're in that physical place. But you can still really create great relationships through digital.
If you could go back to your 20-year-old self, what would you tell yourself to do more of, less of or differently with regards to your professional career?
Believe in yourself, that would be one that's been huge for me. There's so many years that I wasted and so much money lost because I didn't believe in myself. I didn't think I could do things on my own. I felt like I needed a crutch, I felt like I couldn't do this because I didn't have that degree from Wharton Business School and all these just ridiculous stories I made up in my mind that held me back. So that would be the biggest thing right there.
We've all heard of the six degrees of separation, who would be the one person that you would love to connect with? And do you think you could do it within the sixth degree?
I'd love to connect with Oprah. So another mentor of mine, I met at a birthday party for our girls when my youngest was in kindergarten. We met and I was talking about Oprah. She must have just started her channel at the time. And I mentioned it and she said, oh, my gosh, I told Oprah that exact same thing the other day. I have a couple of those with Oprah like that one degree or two degrees. So I'm just hoping one day to get a chance to meet her. But it has not happened yet.
Any final word or advice for listeners with regards to growing and supporting your network?
Be of service, follow up with people, stay connected, and you're not going to be able to do it all on your own. You're going to need people around you to offer mentorship and advice and referrals and recommendations and connections. So it's all about people and getting out there and the more people that you know, the more opportunities come your way.
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